Bolga by bike

Bolga By Bike

I am the happy and proud guardian of what appears to be the only mountain bike in town.  And I have put it to good use exploring my neighbourhood and taking trips into town. Thanks to five years of cycling London’s roads, I am unphased by the antics of traffic on roads with few markings and a less rigorous highway code.  However, I was unprepared for the less stable road surfaces I would encounter.  Away from the town centre most roads are untarmaced.  Most people negotiate these on sit-up-and-beg style bicycles with narrow tyres, much more adeptly than I on my seemingly more suitable bike..!  Not only will they balance themselves and the bike over rocks or through soft sand, but also heavy loads of anything from full petrol cans, to huge sacks of charcoal to a couple of goats.

Road through the outskirts of town

On the busiest main road which bypasses the centre of Bolga is a cycle lane!  Well, it’s not exclusively for cyclists, it’s also for pedestrians, but I’m happy to be able to keep out of the way of the traffic.

Main road and ‘cycle lane’ bypassing Bolga town centre

The bike needed some TLC, so on Saturday I took it to one of the many repair places dotted around town.  The man below did some very impressive work to get the gears back in working order.  A cable that I would have thrown away and replaced was skilfully brought back to life.  There may be little in the way of official recycling schemes but it would appear that (perhaps out of necessity, but also good sense) many people will repair and re-use as much as possible.  Whilst I waited I watched the assistant apply three patches to an inner tube, to be re-sold and re-used.  I was reminded of the times I’ve been to bike shops in London to ask for some minor maintenance, only to be told all moving parts need to be replaced and they’d like to charge me a small fortune for it.  I would like some of those mechanics to come and see the magic worked by this man in Bolga!

Pimping my ride

As at home, I’m enjoying the independence having a bike brings me.  Free transport in the fresh air and sunshine (unlike home!), nothing better!  It enables me to go to the market to buy vegetables, or to the many small shops for other supplies:

Shopping

The market

But between 1pm and 3pm it’s a bit too hot for cycling, so a perfect time for a long lunch! 🙂

Lunch with some VSO volunteers

Travel by bike is the perfect pace, quick enough to get around without too much time or energy expended, and sedate enough to look at the sights and chat to people.  On trips around the neighbourhood I have had many friendly conversations with inquisitive passers-by.  And I find it very cute when the little kids shout “hello, how are you?” and “goodbye” and beam and wave at me as I pass.  Two students of Bolga Polytechnic recently kindly adopted me as their friend, and last Sunday I went to visit them at home:

Rakia and Amamata

Student digs, and a neighbour’s beans drying outside

Many people have motorbikes in Bolga, and in the evening, with no lights on my bike, and not that many streetlamps, riding pillion is a more advisable way to get around!

My colleague Tony

And after a day on bikes in the Ghanaian heat, nothing is more delicious than a refreshing bottle of the Ghanaian lager Club and paprika beef kebabs:

Pit-stop

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About Jenny

Whilst working for a development NGO in Bolgatanga, northern Ghana, I will provide a few insights into the town, region and my work here with posts and photos.

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